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Everything Vancouver travellers need to know about lost and delayed luggage right now

How secure is the baggage area at YVR and who is watching it? Here's what you need to know in the wake of the winter storms.
From carry-on luggage to Air Canada baggage claims, this guide provides Vancouver, BC air passengers with the steps to take for delayed or lost items.

Travellers may have eventually arrived at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in the wake of two major winter storms — but they might still be missing their luggage. 

Numerous air passengers have shared horror stories, videos, and images of baggage areas with piles of luggage covering the ground. In one instance, a man spent several hours locating his checked baggage even though the plane never left the ground; the flight was cancelled after he had checked it with WestJet due to inclement weather. 

Heading into the airport, a Toronto woman said she spent days in Vancouver over the Christmas holidays without her carry-on luggage that Air Canada had promised would meet her at YVR after she landed; it contained her daughter's life-saving medication.

After returning to the airport to look for their Air Canada luggage, the frustrated traveller noticed that there wasn't any security around and was concerned that someone stole it. The family located the carry-on luggage on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, which was four days after their flight landed in Vancouver. 

How secure are bags at Vancouver International Airport?

Many people are still waiting for their checked baggage, with many of them returning to YVR for several days to sort through the heaps of belongings. 

When asked who is watching the luggage that is sitting at the airport, a spokesperson for YVR told Vancouver Is Awesome that "all checked baggage is under the care of control of their respective airline" and that airlines are working to get security patrolling the baggage areas.

"We've been able to work with them to put up some temporary walls and things like that but all checked baggage is under the care and control of the airlines," added YVR. 

The Vancouver airport also has a baggage customer support team stationed at both domestic and international arrivals. 

In an emailed statement to V.I.A., Air Canada said the widespread storms have resulted in an "increase in delayed and misconnected bags" and that it advises customers to carry-on medication in a purse or small carry-on item.

Air Canada said it "continues to have security in the excess baggage overflow area," too.  

What should you do if you don't have your bags?

Passengers who arrive without the luggage should follow up with their airline and start a claim for their checked bag. They can do that at the airport or online with the airline, according to YVR. 

Each airline has an online section that deals with lost, delayed, and damaged baggage, including Air Canada, WestJet, Flair, Sunwing, Air Transat, and Swoop

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has also released a new resource for travellers who experience flight delays, cancellations, and baggage loss. 

The document outlines information about travellers' rights and what they should do if their flight is delayed or cancelled, according to the online Air Passenger Protection (APP) document. It also provides information on the steps to take if their baggage is lost, damaged, or delayed.

But an air passenger rights advocate says the CTA isn't acting in the passengers' interests.

Dr. Gábor Lukács is the founder and president of Air Passenger Rights (APR) — a group that gives airline customers information about their rights so they are capable of enforcing them against airlines. 

The APR website has a resource that travellers can reference for guidance on what to do if their baggage is lost, delayed, or damaged. Travellers can find information about key deadlines for filing claims, what rights they have, and a step-by-step guide to follow if their bags are delayed.

Travel insurance is key 

InsureMyTrip travel insurance expert Meghan Walch says airlines will often exclude valuable items from coverage, such as electronics. Depending on the insurance provider you choose, you may receive compensation for these items. 

"Take photos of the items in your luggage to know what you packed and what may have been damaged, lost, or stolen," she explains. 

After you reach your destination, many insurance policies may also cover you while you are staying in your accommodation or on a tour; airlines will not cover you once you have received your bag. 

Insurance policies may also offer you more spending money if your luggage is delayed.